Why do we tend to focus on what giving costs us rather than what it represents to others?
The concept of giving is a win – win situation
· Giving can be done without a tremendous sacrifice of time or money
Most people immediately think of time or money when they consider giving. For instance, if someone is asked to volunteer at church or their childrens school they typically think “I do not have enough hours in the day as it is!”
When neighborhood children come to the door selling wrapping paper, gifts, or cookies folks think about all the things they have bought for various fundraisers.
Here is the reality check: we all find the time and money for things we want. The person who says they have no extra time often commit several hours a week to watching TV. Those that are out of money often mean they do not have any money after they go out to eat lunches and dinners several times a week.
Now please do not misunderstand me. I have a few shows that I love to watch. You will never meet a bigger fan of going out to eat than me. The examples I gave were intended to illustrate that it is how we prioritize what we do that informs our giving.
· One way to define giving could be recognition
The practice of recognition can be a very easy habit to develop. It takes very little time and virtually no money. All it requires is for the giver to take a moment to focus on someone else. I will give you a great example. I have a meeting that I attend every Tuesday as a member of Toastmasters. Our club gathers in a meeting room at an assisted living facility. When I arrive there are usually a few of the residents either outside in chairs or sitting in the foyer. I always say hello and ask how they are. I do it for a couple of reasons. First of all it is about being that type of person who will greet people. The second in this example is most important. I was raised to respect my elders and it is totally appropriate to acknowledge these folks.
If anyone doubts the power of a hello just watch the reaction. Often they will light up because you RECOGNIZED them! This will work just about everywhere. The next time you go to the grocery store and wait in the long line remember this talk and look at the name tag of the cashier and say “Hi Mary How are you?” You just may be the first person all day to actually acknowledge the person and not just the cashier. It literally takes 2 seconds to do. You can make a persons day with that little bit of effort.
This approach is like magic if you apply it to your family and friends. I make every effort to recognize when my kids do something well. It is not just saying “good job honey.” I look them in the eyes and RECOGNIZE and ACKNOWLEDGE what they did. My job is to build them up by giving them positive interactions as much as I can. This straightforward style also makes it easier to correct them when they do something less than desirable. When you establish the positive through recognition the occasional hiccups do not stand a chance of derailing your lines of communication.
· Givers are the go-getters in our world
Have you ever notices that the people that volunteer their time, resources, and energy tend to be the most positive people you come across? You might think they should be the least likely to be positive based on their efforts above and beyond their personal responsibilities. They will tell you it is just the opposite.
There is power in giving yourself for the benefit of others. The key here is to give without any expectations of anything in return. This requirement separates the pretenders from the true givers. There is a tremendous feeling you get when you help someone just to help them. Those that go through their day with a disposition that is committed to help others when the opportunity arises find that the opportunities arise regularly.
If you do not know people like I am describing I will tell you that you do but you may not realize it. Quite simply these are the people that you like to be around and leave you feeling better than you did before you interacted with them. They are the givers.
My hope is that my interpretation of giving resonates with someone and spurs them to examine how they can be a giver in their lives. It can be a powerful piece in the puzzle of how you want to live your life. Know that it is more than time or money. It is recognizing opportunities as they present themselves and deciding that you will be present in the world as someone who gets it. Can you be a giver even if you are the only one that knows you gave? Make the decision to be that person and the recipient of your efforts will ultimately be you.